Monday, January 29, 2007

Rehberg flies his chopper through a loophole.... not

The Gazette put a notice on the front page pointing to a article in the State and Local section about Rep. Denny Rehberg. It says, as does the first line of the article, that a "loophole" in the new House ethics guidelines allows Rehberg to fly his helicopter around the state on official business and be reimbursed for it, while Congressmen who are fixed-wing pilots are not allowed to do the same when flying personal aircraft.

Reading the rest of the article, it is clear that there is no loophole involved. The definition of a loophole is "an ambiguity or omission in the text through which the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded."

This is manifestly not the case in the matter of Choppergate -- what Rehberg will be doing when piloting his chopper is following the intent of the ethics rules. It is the poor schmucks who can't fly their airplanes who are prevented from following the intent of the law because the ethics rules were so poorly written. (Is this there a name for this, such as a "reverse loophole?)

It should be pointed out that the Gazette article does not imply that Rehberg is doing anything unethical (although the word "loophole" was misleading and inappropriate, as noted above).

The matter will be corrected by better-written House rules, but it is another example of why hastily written laws and rules are not a very good idea -- the inane "first 100 hours" plan of Democrat Speaker Pelosi is currently Exhibit A for anyone who wants to make that case.